The RCMP is focusing on fraud prevention this month.
They're focusing on a different theme each week, with this week's being investment scams.
These scams have been particularly prevalent in the past few years with the rise of cryptocurrency and NFT schemes.
They also include ponzi/pyramid schemes, investment fraud via social media, and real estate scams.
The Alberta Community Crime Prevention Association (ACCPA) has shared some tips on avoiding these scams:
- Be skeptical of unsolicited investment opportunities;
- Always get a second opinion;
- Be suspicious of time-limited or high-pressure salespeople; and,
- Research the investment for how it works, the risks and fees.
As always, over-the-phone scams are common, especially during tax season.
Scammers often pose as the Canada Revenue Agency, telling potential victims that they either owe money or that there's a sizable tax return waiting for them.
Constable Jill Kindgon-Mills with the High River RCMP says scammers often tie current events into their schemes.
"People were getting phoned saying 'I'll sell you a filtration system that'll prevent you from ever getting COVID,' or 'if you pay me I can get you faster testing for COVID.' It just makes me sick to think that the people out there are using difficult world circumstances to scam people out of money."
Phone scams almost always rely on pressure tactics, where victims aren't given time to think things over or ask for a second opinion.
According to Kingdon-Mills, this is critical, as a second opinion from a third party often brings clarity for victims.
"Take that step back and ask lots of questions, whether you're asking questions to the person trying to scam you, or if you're getting off the phone and asking questions with us or a trusted other person. Take that bit of time to ask questions and run it through your filtration process to see whether it makes sense to you."
When people do succumb to phone scams, Kingdon-Mills says the scam often seems obvious in hindsight, leaving victims embarrassed to seek help afterward.
"They're really slick and very convincing, so if you believe you've been a victim of fraud, please do not be embarrassed, please do not be ashamed. The second you realized something's gone wrong, give us a call at the detachment or call a trusted person to talk about it with them."
Scams can be reported to local law enforcement or directly to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre either online at www.antifraudcentre.ca or by calling: 1-888-495-8501